Just because you need something, doesn’t mean you need to buy it new.
That’s the mantra of Yerdle, a non-traditional e-commerce company that’s trying to help empty our garages, attics, and closets of the trillions of dollars of discarded goods while simultaneously keeping old products out of landfills.
The company allows users to upload pictures of things they no longer need, which other users can then “win” by exchanging credits (every new user gets 250 Yerdle credits and you earn more when you share your own stuff). Once a deal is made, the buyer pays low-cost ($3 to $US4), flat-rate shipping to wherever they live in the U.S.; making online sharing as easy as online shopping. Yerdle eventually plans to make money by offering a small number of credits for sale, so that users who don’t have enough of their own credits from “selling” their goods, can still get objects that they want without waiting.
Andy Ruben, Yerdle’s co-founder, shared some big news with Business Insider: The company just raised $US5 million to help it continue to grow.
Since launching about a year and a half ago, Yerdle has hit 50,000 members, shared 31,000 items, and seen over 2 million Yerdle credits exchanged. A new item is posted on Yerdle every minute, and Ruben and the team plan to use the new funding to help that momentum continue and the user experience improve.
Ruben himself has a long commerce history: He worked at Wal-Mart for ten years and led the company’s sustainability efforts. But the entire retail system as he saw it was broken. People shell out money for new items that they could get for free from their neighbour’s garage. They pay $US30 for a new blender, instead of saving a slightly used one from winding up in a dump. The amount of waste in almost incomprehensible.
On Yerdle, you can find almost anything, ranging from the completely practical (kitchen supplies and outdoor equipment are both big hits) to the quirky (I once found an amazing sparkly burrito wall-hanging).
“How many kids will be inspired by a single lego set?” Ruben says. “That’s a really inspiring question for us.”
Besides giving people an opportunity to get things they need for free, Ruben says that he loves how the site fosters human connection. He recently got a record player off the site. Not only did he fulfil a need without going to the mall, but he loves the player more because it has a history.
“When people share items, it’s a connected experience and there’s a special aura about those products because they came from someone else who loved them,” he says. “There’s something beautiful about that.”